Post Photography, or are we past photography?

This blog post will focus on the text ‘Post Photography, or are past photography?’ by Andreia Alves De Oliveira. Throughout the text what got me focused into it more was Andreia’s discussion on photography, its practice and how it has been transformed by computers and the internet. “The screen is how we now view photographs” This quote included in the text is a clear indication of how photography has changed throughout history, emphasising the rarity of photographic prints since photography’s creation in the mid-19th Century.

The text includes a discussion from William J.Mitchell’s book “The reconfigured eye: Visual truth in the post-photographic era” This book argues that digitisation brought a reconfiguration of the relationship between photography and the truth.  I personally agree that digitalisation and also the fact that photographic manipulation is too easy in the media world contributes to the remodelling of photography and how it can bring doubt upon what is the truth, especially in relation to photo-journalism, if certain parts of an image are taken out, that isn’t portraying the full truth.

Andreia includes two arguable quotes by Martha Roster and Geoffrey Batchen. Martha Roster discusses that manipulation is essential to photography and Geoffrey Batchen discusses that the absence of truth is an inescapable fact of photographic life. Looking at Martha’s point, I personally feel that manipulation isn’t essential in photography if you are to portray the truth, but arguably Geoffreys point on how manipulation is something you cant always avoid is true, its very difficult in the 21st century to come across an image that hasn’t been altered in any way possible, even the slightest filter on a photograph is seen to be manipulation.


For this blog review I want to focus on a section from the book ‘Photography as activism’ by Michelle Bogre. I want to start with a quote by W.Euene Smith, who is a social documentary photographer of the 20th century “Photo is a small voice, at best, but sometimes… just sometimes… one photograph or a group of them can lure our senses into awareness” This quote to me defines a photo activist, stating the power of photography, but expresses that one photo alone isn’t as good as a group, a group of photographs together can exaggerate great power of awareness to the public in relation to documentary photography or just photography in general.

The chapter focuses on the history of photo activism and how it retained its activist status throughout the 1930s to the 1940s because the photograph had no competition. Meaning the only reason why photo activists could keep their position strong was because they weren’t up against anything else that could set out for social and political change.

Michelle Bogre moves on to discuss how in 1950/60 the power of photography decreased somewhat, but around the same time, TV Journalism amplified the still photograph but it was seen that moving image and sound was more intriguing to viewers. I find this understandable as these days creating awareness as an activist works just as well through the use of radio and TV news, but I still find the art of documentary really powerful to create a rare moment when documenting something such as the war.

Following from this, the text mentions how activist documentary photography rose again in the 1960s/70s as photographers imaged the great social movements and issues such as civil rights and drug addiction in America. I find this movement very effective as issues such as drug addiction will always receive help from the public through more awareness by using documentary.

A point that stood out to me more in this chapter is the discussion on the 1990s when web platforms came around and this resulted in thousands of activist photographers testifying to the dedication of photographs. This emphasises to use the power that photo activism had an how it fought to stick around, despite the competition in media, photography will always hold its own special platform within activism.

Notes to self: The visual culture of selfies: Derek Conrad Murray


In the text written by Derek Murray, he actively discusses his interest with social media and the selfie; particularly the use of selfies by young women on sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram. Derek begins to talk about how young women characterize the selfie as a political empowerment in an act to resist the male-dominated media culture and their obsession with women’s lives and bodies.

I agree and disagree with this discussion as in the 21st Century, women often contradict themselves, some post explicit selfies to gain male attention, some post them to regain female power, it’s a 50/50 split between the intentions of women’s selfies and can be perceived very differently by men in social media.  Derek backs this opinion up with this statement “The gesture itself has been popularly characterised as something rather pitiful… as an expression of narcissism and self-loathing” and also further into his text discusses how social media is inundated with blogs by young women who upload explicit images then contradict themselves with a followed post about rape and abuse to women.

Throughout the text, Derek moves onto the relation between the selfie and post-feminism. He discusses post-feminism in a theory of representation and how young women seek to redefine the parameters of feminism that grants them recognition.  My interpretation of this is that I believe women do strategically use the selfie to regain female power and to push for more equality between the sexes, but the question is, how does the selfie actually do that, other than to draw in male attention.

A point in the text that I would like to be able to understand further is Derek’s discussion on the female gaze and how it relates to inequality and female disempowerment as this is something I’m struggling to take apart.

#GirlGaze: Ruxandra Looft

The article by Ruxandra Looft challenges the male-dominated photography industry. The text discusses the website #GirlGaze founded by Amanda De Cadenet in 2016. This was created as a way to attract female photographers to promote their work as photography was seen traditionally as a male profession.

GirlGaze went viral after Amanda introduced the project to the Teen Vogue website, thousands of people were joining the trend. I personally feel that this is a great success already in engaging people into looking at your views and goals. The text also discusses the project goals and how they went on to addressing how women learn to understand themselves as part of a cultural discourse on womanhood.

“If we don’t have women telling their stories through all mediums, how are we supposed to see ourselves honestly reflected in the world” (Amanda De Cadenet, 2016) I support this statement by Amanda as I find it’s important that women have a voice and speak out honestly on their views as they will be heard, as the project GirlGaze shows, social media is a huge platform in the 21st century to voice opinions.

The text has helped me understand feminism in more depth when the author discusses the first to fourth wave of feminism from the year 1840 onwards. The discussion on the fourth wave and the usage of technology and social media has helped me to understand that these methods are even more powerful than we’ve ever thought. GirlGaze is a great example in relation to the fourth wave of feminism, using social media platforms such as twitter to promote and gain followers for Amanda’s project. Looft Discusses social media activism and mentions how twitter is a more political, volatile and scrutinized platform, this is because of the power that the use of the ‘Hashtag’ holds, one use of it and your post is worldwide.


Joan Fontcuberta: Pandora’s Camera

The text Pandora’s Camera; Photography after Photography portrays a strong view and exploration of typical digital retouching and also explores examples of artists that challenged the view of what is glamour in an alternative perception of public figures.

Joan Fontcuberta begins to discuss an advert by company Chanel and how when it came to using actress Keira Knightley in celebrity endorsement for their perfume, the actress was expected to go for a more sensual ‘feminine’ shape, instantly shaming her slim figure and lack sizing in her breasts. Company Touchstone pictures picked upon the same body discrediting and enhanced the actress’s breasts in photoshop.

This exploration into the two companies that discouraged Keira’s body lead to quotes discussing deception and the truth. “Truth should be shown not naked, but in a nightgown” Francisco de Quevedo. My interpretation of this statement suggests that the truth should be shown, it shouldn’t have to be exposed so boldly, but also shouldn’t be covered up. This was followed by a statement by Thomas Fuller “Craft must have clothes, but truth loves to go naked” Meaning to lie, states you’re covering up the truth, but ‘Truth loves to go naked’ expresses honesty is freedom when you’re not having to hide anything. When Joan discusses the Chanel advert in relation to the quotes, he talks about digital retouching mitigating Kiera’s chest and how digital surgery like this is not an exclusive privilege to women, then refers to enhancements used on Sylvester Stallone.

Throughout the text, Joan continues to talk about how digital retouching is standard, it goes without saying that there isn’t a digital media company that wouldn’t consider it, continuing this on by mentioning that within digital technology, “if it’s possible…sooner or later it’s going to happen” Meaning if you can enhance images and fake it to make it… why not? He carries this on with a discussion on celebrities caught in the nude… then states “it’s unlikely that many people believe these photos are authentic”  introducing artist Alison Jackson who uses Photoshop to create photo fiction of public figures for humor, with an example of using George W. Bush in an image of him baffled by a Rubiks cube. Joan discusses that these types of pictures by Alison Jackson don’t deceive anyone, she just creates fantasies. “Their condition as fiction is a product of our perception”. Joan means the photo fiction of celebs is merely a result of how the public have been made to see them.

Later in the text, Joan speaks about how we don’t need to worry about how we look anymore because we’re in a society where we’re more focused on the image rather than what is real. But then later discusses how no matter how much you fake something, it won’t change what’s reality in relation to the perfume advert with Keira Knightley… “The retouched Keira maybe more fascinating, but the extra attractiveness makes no difference to the smell of the scent”

The text also divides blame between who’s at fault when it comes to media manipulation, is it the photographers or the editors? Joan includes a quote “Don’t blame the bullets, blame the speed at which they hit people” Suggesting that photography is the bullet and photoshop is the speed that hits the people with such force. But within the quote lies “Though everyone knows that bullets are designed specifically to travel at that velocity” meaning it’s the photography that is designed to hit people at such a speed, the photoshop is merely a curve ball on the way.

Joan concludes the text with a discussion on hypocrisy of editors and how they wave codes of ethic when the images are done by the photographers, if any criticism comes from enhancing too much but when it comes to gaining corporate interest, editors are more than happy to permit and justify the work.